This is demonstrated by an investigation that lasted 12 years and analyzed 750 people who, according to their condition, had been using a wheelchair for at least a year.
The 76 percent of people who use wheelchairs permanently suffers some type of pain related to the neck or back , to the point that one in 10 uses specific medication to combat it , according to the results of a study of the Spanish Network of Researchers in Back Pain (REIDE).
The research, which has been funded by the Kovacs Foundation and the Asisa Foundation, has lasted 12 years and the results published in the magazine ‘Spinal Cord’, was based on the analysis of 750 people with a traumatic spinal cord injury or a neurodegenerative disease (mainly multiple sclerosis) and had been using a wheelchair for at least a year, although the average time of use was about 10 years.
The average age of the participants was 43 years, 66 percent required help for their physical activity, only 19 percent worked and up to 39 percent had clinical depression .
And when their level of pain was evaluated, they saw that 76 percent suffered pain at some level of the spine, 56 percent in the neck, 54 in the dorsal column and 45 percent in the lumbar .
A circumstance that was associated with a worse quality of life in any type of pain, has highlighted the director of REIDE and first author of the study, Francisco Kovacs, who considers that the study is the broadest that has been done on these ailments in this collective.
In addition, among the respondents, 11 percent used non-opioid analgesics, 10 percent anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids , 3.7 percent muscle relaxants, and 1.1 percent opioids .
In the study, it was seen that suffering some type of pain (cervical, dorsal or lumbar) was associated with an increased risk of suffering from others and certain factors were identified that conditioned the appearance of pain.
Thus, Kovacs explained, the risk of suffering spinal pain was greater among women, who lived alone or used a manual, non-electric wheelchair. Likewise, a relationship between pain and an increased risk of depression was also observed, although “it did not become statistically significant”.
“The same with a somewhat larger sample could have confirmed this relationship, which has not so much to do with intensity but with duration, ” he acknowledged.
THE THICKNESS OF THE CHAIR PAD CAN INFLUENCE
Also, neck pain was more likely to suffer from those who had suffered a spinal cord injury or used a thinner cushion in the wheelchair, while pain in the spine was more frequent in those who had a higher sagittal index , which corresponds to the degree of curvature after the fracture of the vertebrae causing the spinal cord injury.
The good thing, Kovacs pointed out, is that many of these factors associated with pain are modifiable in order to prevent or improve the situation of those affected, who have recommended doing all the physical exercise they can and not spend a lot of time lying down .
” If a pain is very acute you can go to bed for a while, but not much, it is better to do something , whatever you can, it is estimated that you should not spend more than 48 hours of rest in bed,” he said.
Among the study participants, half did about 10 hours of physical activity a week but up to 25 percent did not reach 5 hours per week. Also, half spent about 12 hours a day in the wheelchair, but one in four exceeded 14 hours.